Verizon Wireless hassles me, then hassles me some more

Verizon Wireless has permeated my life with the relentlessness and negative energy of a repo man. It seems I am always on the phone with the carrier about some screw-up, over charge or some oppressive facet of the contract. Actually, the vast majority of time is spent on hold and for a manager after circular conversations with a hapless customer rep.

The latest problem came in the form of a text about excessive charges on my account. I called – it must be the dozenth time in the past 45 days – and it turns out a suspended line was incorrectly re-activated even though I did not authorize it. It happened in a retail store when I upgraded to an iPhone 5.

The result was $147 in fraudulent roaming charges. Verizon said it would forgive the charges and re-suspend the line, but I am insisting Verizon Wireless forgive the early termination fee and shut down the line once and for all given it’s history.

So far, no dice.

Over the summer, the phone was stolen or lost and fell into the wrong hands. The line had been idled when my son updated to a smartphone and another line. We are forced to keep the idled line until the contract ends March 20 or incur early termination charges.

Verizon Wireless turned the idle line back on by accident and the nice folks who stole the phone discovered this and starting making expensive calls again. Apparently when we changed our plan, the idle line was automatically re-activated and not returned to suspension status. It’s one of those many Verizon Wireless gotchas in their hairball contract plans.

The first time around with fraudulent roaming charges in November, Verizon Wireless gave me a hard time about the charges and it wasn’t until the third call and hours on the phone (never call them on the weekend – these people must be trainees and are empowered to do nothing). Their argument was we lost the phone and did not notify them.

That is true, but it’s their contract structure that makes us pay for a phone we are not using and that after adding a much more expensive new line. My son had thrown the phone in a drawer and never saw it again.

This is not good for my blood pressure. I have been on hold for an hour waiting to speak to a manager to appeal that the line be shut down with no early termination charges which would be around 70 bucks. I waited for an hour to speak to a manager for an hour and no one came on the line. I am supposed to get a call back.

[A manager called back and Verizon Wireless refused to back down, arguing I should shut the phone line down. The termination fee still applies, although manager said I could pay it or not. It's a wonder that the old phone company monopoly mentality is alive and well when finally there is limited competition in this space.]

This far into the contract and Verizon Wireless is holding my feet to the fire after it screwed up!

What bothers me is how much time I have to spend sorting things out with Verizon Wireless. I never know what I have to pay or what surprises will be on my bill. Don’t they suck enough money out of me already – $300 a month?

I have to laugh. When the rep ran out of things to say, he nervously remarked that consumers also have to spend time with other providers such as insurance companies and banks. That is not true. GEICO, my auto insurance provider, has been nothing short of terrific. Easy to deal with and no mistakes. My bank too.

It seems to me Verizon Wireless does not have a clue as to how oppressive and complicated these plans are. Maybe they do understand and do them anyway. Whatever happened to the notion of delighting customers?Maybe Verizon Wireless should rip a page out Amazon’s playbook.

Such arrogance will catch up with them.

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